By Casey Quackenbush
July 16, 2018

A mob of angry villagers has killed hundreds of protected crocodiles in Indonesia’s far-eastern province of West Papua in what appears to be a retaliatory attack after a person was killed by one of the reptiles.

Police and officials say they were unable to stop the massacre and may press charges against attackers, the BBC reports. Killing a protected species in Indonesia is a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment.

A local villager was reportedly killed early Friday while collecting vegetables on the premises of a crocodile farm’s breeding sanctuary.

“An employee heard someone screaming for help, quickly went there and saw a crocodile attacking someone,” said the head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency in West Papua, according to the BBC.

A mob of several hundred locals went to the sanctuary with knives, shovels, hammers and clubs following the villager’s funeral Saturday.

According to local media, all 292 of the sanctuary’s crocodiles were slaughtered. The site is a licensed operation that breeds protected saltwater and New Guinea crocodiles for preservation and harvest.

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